When we watch a solar eclipse in the sky, we do say the sun has been eclipsed, there is total darkness and there is a diamond ring in the sky. It is the experience of the layman, the mediaperson as well as the scientist. The Vivekachoodamani of Sri Adi Sankaracharya quotes this brilliant example to show how an enlightened being is actually affected by ignorance.
Even as we perceive the shadow of the moon covering the sun and we say the sun has been eclipsed, in reality from the point of view of the sun, the eclipse is a joke as the light of the sun cannot be covered. In the same way, the one who has realised the light of consciousness is seen by others to be eclipsed by the body, mind and intellect. For the ignorant person, the body is reflecting the sunlight around and the mind reflects the light of consciousness within. So they see a body and feel the mind. The enlightened being is like the sun that can never see a shadow. The body and mind do not exist. Consciousness alone is.
The body of the liberated being continues to exist like the skin of the snake that has been shed. It seems to move about here and there due to the movement of the life force. It has no individuality of its own.
In another beautiful example, the Acharya says that the liberated being lives along like a drifting log of wood on a river. Whether the river drops it at a high bank or a low one, the wood does not decide. The situation takes the call. In the same way the enlightened being is pushed around by the results of his past actions until they are exhausted in course of time.
The one who has realised the self moves about with the desires created by past impressions as if like one bound to the wheel of change, enjoying everything that comes to him. Indeed the body is free from the clutches of desire-filled impressions. The accomplished person continues his existence like a witness in silence, still like the central hub of a potter’s wheel.
He does not lock his senses into any object of his choice nor does he train them away from any object. He simply witnesses what he engages and disengages in. He does not expect for even a little, any particular result for actions performed. He is drunk with the wine of bliss of existence at all times.
The writer is Sevika, Chinmaya Kripa, Coimbatore (www.chinmayamission.com); email: firstname.lastname@example.org